Alderon's Tower     
 The Adventures of Solo Jones Home  
Chapter 12 -- The Investigation Begins
Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.

The next morning I slept late, as you might imagine. When I awoke I smelled bacon, so I quickly visited the bathroom, dressed and got myself downstairs.

Bacon, eggs, toast, and orange juice greeted me, along with a lovely smile and a kiss from Mara. "You know, modern American women don't cook like this for their husbands all that often anymore," she said.

"So I've heard. I'm glad you like to cook, because even magic can't make a good cook out of me." I began to eat in earnest as Mara sat down across from me with her own plate. "Where's Mark?" I finally asked.

"In the basement, working on your staff. He came in this morning carrying a power saw." This piqued my curiosity, so I quickly finished and started for the stairs. "Wait," she said, and I turned around. "You want this?" she asked, holding out a mug of hot xocholotl.

"Thanks!" I said, and "paid" with a kiss. Thus armed I went down the stairs.

The small workbench was entirely occupied by a power saw with a rotary blade. Mark was aligning a section of the thickest pipe in the saw, then as I watched silently he engaged the blade with a deafening roar and drew it down onto the tube. In a shower of sparks it was severed.

Mark noticed me then, and turned around, removing a pair of clear glasses from his face. "Pretty cool, isn't it?" he asked, showing me the very clean cut end of the tube. "I just couldn't get a straight clean cut with handtools."

"What do you call this thing?" I asked, indicating the saw.

"Compound miter saw with a metal-cutting blade. It has way more features than I needed for cutting tubing, but it was all they had." I looked it over, and then he smiled and said, "Don't worry, I didn't buy it, it's just rented. Most of the tools I picked up for you are pretty useful for many jobs, but you don't need something like this gathering dust down here." He rubbed absently at his right ear. "Basements aren't a great place for this kind of thing."

"I can fix that," I said, and quickly adapted a Silence spell to cover just the saw. "That should last for hours."

"Thanks!" he said. I remained, watching, as Mark cut out enough tubing pieces to assemble three staff sections. He told me that he didn't want to have to keep the rented saw any longer than he had to, so he cut extra pieces in case we screwed one up.

That done, we moved the saw to the floor and began to "dry-assemble" a staff section. It looked as if it would go together properly, so Mark got out the powerful epoxy he had chosen to assemble it with and began mixing up a batch.

I called Mara down and told them of my night. As I recounted the names of the women present, Mara nodded at them all except Japera. "She must have joined recently," she said.

"I assume so. She spoke English with an African-American accent; it sounded a bit strained to me though."

"Fake?" asked Mark.

"Perhaps. Like she was trying too hard to fit in." I proceeded with my story, and when I got to the part where Raziya's husband arrived Mara frowned.

"He is very traditional," she said. "He never approved of Raziya going to the meetings. She needed corrective surgery because of frequent infections but he wouldn't allow that. I bet he's beside himself now."

I had to have that expression explained to me; then I went on to tell about my eventful trip home.

"How did he know which way you went?" asked Mark. "Was he reading your mind?"

"That was probably it," I said. "The two times I dodged him, I hadn't decided which way to go until he was already airborne. However he was able to jump around like that, he couldn't change course in the air."

"Nice to know that magic doesn't negate physics," laughed Mark.

Our conversation turned to the case then. "Why do these apprentices of Joseph Green care about Kimberly Burke's rape?" I wondered aloud.

"Maybe this Joel is one of them," suggested Mark. "Or even Daniel Burke."

"Could be," I said. "The other puzzler is, how is it possible she is pregnant? Did she lie about having had sex with anyone else?"

"No," said Mara, "I'm sure she didn't lie to me." She said it like there was no chance she was wrong, and I have learned since then that she rarely is when the question is lying.

"Then how? The D&C procedure sounds pretty effective at preventing pregnancy."

Mark was carefully inserting one of the thinwall inserts into the thickest tubing. He wiped away the excess epoxy, then said "Did the doctor fake it?"

I was struck dumb for a moment. "Is that possible?"

"She's what, sixteen? Has she ever had the procedure before?" he asked.

Mara said, "Most women don't have detailed sensation that far inside. The doctor would just have to make her uncomfortable and maybe make her bleed a little, and she might not know the difference."

"But why?" I asked. Then I knew. "Joseph Green. For some reason he's interested in this girl. Maybe he's related to this Joel, father or grandfather perhaps."

"That doesn't make sense, Solo. If the baby is born, or even aborted as a fetus, DNA testing could establish the father's identity. He should want the pregnancy stopped, not continued."

"There's more to this than meets the eye, that's for sure. We need to talk to the doctor who did the procedure."

Mara said, "I'll call Miyuki Burke and ask her who it was. No offense, love, but you are a bit too blunt sometimes."

"Thanks, Mara. Then we'll see if we can meet him this afternoon."

By lunchtime Mark had finished assembling two sections. The high-strength epoxy would take hours to reach full strength, so we left them there drying and went upstairs.

Mara met us in the kitchen, where I noticed that lunch was conspicuously absent. "His name is Doctor Farim Rado," she said, "and I got us an appointment to meet him at one o'clock sharp, so it's fast food for lunch or we'll never get there on time."

The hospital where Doctor Rado was employed was not the same as the one Valerie was being treated in. (If you have noticed that I avoid using the names of the facilities, there is a reason... I don't want them to sue me.)

We went through a drive-through and ate enroute. I'll tell you this: No matter how much fine cuisine I eat, I'll always have a special place in my heart for the Big Mac. I wiped the special sauce from my mouth with a napkin just as we arrived at the medical center.

As Mara and I got out, Mark said, "Same drill as yesterday; call me when you want a pickup." I agreed, and we went inside.

Doctor Rado's receptionist let us in immediately, and he arose from his seat to greet us. "Hello, come in, come in. You are investigating the unfortunate rape of Kimberly Burke, correct?" He had an accent, which Mara later told me was Indian.

"Good afternoon, Doctor Rado," I said, shaking his hand. "I'm Solo Jones, and this is Mara, my..."

"Assistant," she said, with deviltry in her eyes. Doctor Rado shook her hand also, then indicated by gesture that we should both sit.

He sat down behind his desk, and said "How can I help you?"

"We interviewed Kimberly Burke yesterday. She told us something we don't understand, so we have come to you for an expert opinion."

"You have my fullest attention," he said.

"She says she is pregnant."

"Impossible! I... wait," he said, looking through files in his desk drawer. "Oh, yes. It was over a month and a half ago. She could have had another ovulation since then. How does she know?"

Oops. I couldn't say that I used Aura Reading... Mara jumped in at this point, saving me. "She said she felt strange, so she used a home pregnancy test. It was positive."

"Indeed. Still, those are hardly conclusive. As I was about to say, I did a D&C on her after collecting the samples for the rape kit. Are you familiar with the procedure?"

"It's been explained to me. Seems pretty simple."

"Exactly. Also very effective. The embryo, if in fact there is one, is not the fault of the rapist."

I found his assertion strange, since Mark had said that DNA testing could verify the parentage of the child. He should be worried, I thought; what did he know that I didn't?

I closed my eyes as if in thought (for indeed I was) and formed the word to activate my Mind Reading spell; then I stood up. "Well, Doctor, this meeting has been very illuminating. I'll call you if I need more information." I turned to leave, waiting a moment for Mara to precede me. At the door I turned back quickly. "Oh, by the way, Doctor, do you know a Joseph Green?"

He looked shocked, and for just a moment I saw in his mind a face. I made an effort to commit it to memory. He recovered quickly. "I suppose I might. There must be many Joseph Greens in the Bay Area."

Mara called Mark after we got outside. On the way back to the house we discussed what I had learned; I adapted my remaining Mind Reading spell so I could gift both my friends with it, and I showed them the image I had plucked from Doctor Rado's mind.

The face was of an older man, one whose face seemed to radiate strength. It seemed familiar to me, and as I looked at Mara we both figured it out at the same time. "He could be Daniel Burke's grandfather!" she said.

"Or grandfather to both men who have tried to kill me. What does it mean?"

"Daniel Burke isn't Walter's son, that's what it means," Mark said. "That family photo you got from Kimberly makes that clear. Daniel looks more like this Joseph Green dude than he does Walter Burke."

"I think we need to talk to Miyuki Burke," I said.

Next Chapter >>

Questions, Comments, or Complaints? Contact:
  Chris Gonnerman <>
The Adventures of Solo Jones Last Updated 07/18/2005